To all Grammar Nazis: Help a brother out

Check out the following conversation, specifically the bold section:

[15:57:39] Stefan du Fresne: Man, I want to be able to leave at 4pm :-( [15:57:58] Tony Ip: easy…just head out the door now :O [15:58:25] Dave McIntyre: or in 90 seconds’ time

Is that right? Why do you have an apostrophe there?

If you use the google theory of correctness you find most people don’t have the apostrophe, but that could just mean that everyone else is as ignorant as me.

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  1. nb
    Posted February 25, 2009 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

    Unless you’re Gollum, I guess. Ninety secondses time, precioussss… Oh, here’s something. And it’s on the Internet, so it must be true.

  2. Posted February 26, 2009 at 11:03 am | Permalink

    Uh. Technical grammar analysis from someone completely untrained in technical grammar analysis follows: It seems like “seconds” is possessive of “time” in that sentence, but I’m pretty certain that the whole sentence is a shortening in the first place – not correct of the strictest grammatical rules. “In 90 seconds of time.” Since it is a shortening and seconds do not actually possess time, they are a measure of it, I think the apostrophe is technically incorrect.

    But super cool use of an apostrophe anyway, I almost never remember to identify possessiveness in situations similar to this.

    I just read the link, and I think the other analysis is incorrect. But you can argue that “In 90 seconds time”, that is without the apostrophe, is incorrect also – except for the extremely commonplace use of the phrase.

  3. Posted February 26, 2009 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    Just came back to my laptop and decided to look up Apostrophe. This Wikipedia article ( is what I ended up reading.

    I read various parts and then “Time, money, and similar”.* In reading that I thought, hey I might be right … but then I could also be wrong. I’m not really sure, I’ll read some more.

    So I ended up reading “Importance for disambiguation” below the time content, and I’ve now decided I know so very little about this subject I should have just kept to myself to begin with :)

    • I have my own questions about punctuation before and after an end quote mark. Usually I put a full stop inside the quotation, in this case a person could copy and paste the quote and not find what they’re after because a full stop is not part of it. Drama!